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a. What is ASEAN
Association of South East Asian Nations
Current member-states: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines,
Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos
Headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia
b. Historical background
Created in August 8, 1967
Bangkok Declaration 5 founding countries
Aims and purposes were about cooperation in the economic, social,
cultural, technical, educational and other fields, and in the promotion
of regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and
the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations


In ASEAN Charter announced in 2007, ASEAN reaffirmed its intention to respecting
the fundamental importance of amity and cooperation, and the principles of
sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, non-interference, consensus and unity
in diversity;

Principle of non-interference

The ASEAN manner of conducting inter-state relations is nestled on the principle

that no sovereign may exercise authority in the domain of another.
- ASEAN members refrain from criticizing the actions of other member
governments towards their own people (domestic affairs)
- Member countries will criticize the actions of the states which were deemed
to have breached the principle of non-interference;
- Member countries will deny to recognize or to supply sanctuary or any other
forms of support to any rebel group seeking to destabilize or overthrow the
government of a neighboring state and;
- ASEAN will provide political support and material assistance to member
states in their campaign against subversion and destabilizing activities.

Principle of consensus

The ASEAN manner of making decisions shall be by consensus, which means any
country can veto a proposal.
Disputes on South China Sea no consensus amongst the member-states because
of Cambodia
III. ASEAN Initiatives in the Field of Environment
ASEAN Environmental Program I (1977) and II (1982)
Strategic Action Plan on Environment (1999-2004)
Establishment of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity Conservation (1999)
Regional Action Plan for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development
Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (2002-2003)
ASEAN Plus Three (since 2002)
East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting (since 2008)
China-ASEAN Strategy on Environmental Protection Cooperation (2009)
ASEAN Socio Cultural Community Blueprint (2009 2015)

In November 2015, the ASEAN Socio Cultural Community Blueprint 2025 was
ASCC 2025 document highlights four broad measures, including:
o (1) conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems
biodiversity and natural resources;
o (2) environmentally sustainably cities;
o (3) sustainable climate; and
o (4) sustainable consumption and production.

IV. The ASEAN Structure and Decision Making Process for

Environmental Cooperation
As stated in the Fourth ASEAN State of the Environment Report 2009, ASEAN aims
to becoming an environmentally-sustainable ASEAN Community by effectively
adapting to ever changing circumstances and improving the regions environmental
ASEAN has firmly committed to establish a Green ASEAN since the celebration
of 2009 ASEAN Day by addressing the following three challenges:
(i) building an environmentally sustainable clean and green ASEAN
(ii) transforming the green shoots of growth following the 2008 global
financial crisis into an economically resilient ASEAN anchored upon green
growth, and
(iii) nurturing the new ASEAN to be a people-centered organization respecting
and living in harmony with nature.1
To achieve the Green ASEAN, ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Socio-Cultural
Community Blueprint, which established environmental sustainability as one of its
key pillars and set the 11 priority areas as shown in Figure 1
The Blueprint clearly states strategic objectives and actions to be taken to achieve
the goals under each priority area. ASEAN member states have committed to
implement various concrete activities by 2015. Overall, the environmental content
of the Blueprint signals the intention of ASEAN member states to strengthen the
regions community-building process based upon the principles of equity and public
participation. This could be a significant change from the traditional principles
emphasized in the economic and security cooperation mechanisms, such as
informal elite-oriented decision making. The Blueprint also emphasizes climate
change, including both mitigation and adaptation measures, as well as food and
energy security in response to both the global financial crisis and climate change
pressures. The text reflects the actual needs and the environmental conditions of
the ASEAN region and calls for cooperation outside the region by identifying broader
and common problems of sustainable development policies. However, it is not clear
to what extent the Blueprint will be implemented given its non-binding nature and
the wide diversity in the political, economic, and socio-cultural characteristics of
ASEAN member states.
V. Institutional Framework for Environmental Cooperation
The ASEAN Summit is the supreme policy-making body of ASEAN, where the ASEAN
leaders provide the vision and broad direction for cooperation in various sectors. It
meets twice a year in addition to having special or ad-hoc meetings.
A newly constituted ASEAN Coordinating Council comprising the ASEAN Foreign
Ministers, among others, coordinates with the ASEAN Community Councils to
enhance policy coherence, efficiency and cooperation.
Each of the three Communities has an ASEAN Community Council which, among
other things, ensures the implementation of the relevant decisions of the ASEAN
Summit, coordinates the work of the different sectors under its purview and on
issues which cut across the other Community Councils, and also oversees the work
of the ASEAN Environment Ministers.
The ASEAN Environment Ministers are mainly responsible for policy and strategic
matters related to the environment, and they have a mandate to make decisions.
The Environment Ministers meet on a formal basis once every three years, and
since 1994, they have also been meeting on an informal basis annually.
The ASOEN meeting is held annually and supports the ASEAN Environment Ministers
Meeting in terms of formulation, implementation and monitoring of regional
program and activities. It also considers the reports of its Working Groups, which
also meet annually, and provides operational policy guidance on the various
environmental program being implemented.
ASEANs organizational structure relating to the environment is fragmented into
various levels of decision making and institutional framework such as the ASEAN
Secretariat, ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN), ASEAN Ministerial
Meeting on Environment (AMME), and 7 Working Groups (WGs).
The ASEAN Secretariat mainly plays a role in coordinating inter-sectoral issues and
activities, while ASOEN and AMME serve as platforms to endorse concrete activities.
The seven Working Groups on the Environment are the only implementing groups in
ASEAN for environmental issues. It is notable that the ASEAN countries have
collectively developed the current organizational structure and deepened
cooperative efforts within ASEAN despite the large political, socio-economic, and
cultural differences among member countries.

Working Groups
The main responsibility of the working groups is to promote and enhance
cooperation among ASEAN member states in implementing the ASEAN SCC
Blueprint, according to their terms of reference. This includes capacity building,
sharing information, and reviewing regional activities etc.
There are seven Working Groups, namely:
(1) ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME)
(2) ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education (AWGEE)
(3) ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESC)
(4) ASEAN Working Group on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (AWGMEA)
(5) ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB)
(6) ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM)
(7) ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC)
Lead Countries are chosen based on their interests in the particular problem area
and the availability of their funds for the particular area.
Policies and proposals of WGs ASOEN Delegates of ASEAN Member-States for
final endorsement

ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment

o Formerly known as the ASEAN Expert Group on the Environment
o Elevated in 1989 to ASOEN
o Meets once a year to consider reports of the WGs
o ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment
Meets once every 3 years formally
Conducts informal meetings almost every year
Reviews the decisions endorsed by the ASOEN

Reports of the ASOEN Meetings ASEAN Standing Committee ASEAN Ministerial


ASEAN Secretariat
o Headed by the Secretary-General
o Currently H.E. Le Luong Minh, Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam
o Acts as a resource base, provides advice and information, coordinates
the implementation of regional activities and programs
o Handles issues not falling within any of the issue-areas of the WGs
ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives
o Established by the ASEAN Charter
o Coordinates with the core business of ASEAN, including implementation
of the Charter and the Blueprints
o Ensures that ASEC has adequate financial and human resources
o Has regular meetings with ASEC although not only with the
Environment Division

Decision Making Process

o Follows the basic principle of consultation and consensus
o Two parts of decision making: policy-making and implementation
o Policy-making AMME has the final decision followed by the ASOEN

WG ASOEN ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives, ASEAN

Coordination Council, and Ministers
o Implementation Environment Division of ASEC circulates proposals
among relevant divisions
ASEC Relevant Divisions Holds meetings with national focal points of WGs
However, challenges to collective action still remain, including a shortage of
finances and the slow progress of implementation constrained by the weak
coordination and continued emphasis on the application of the principles of state
sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, the so-called ASEAN Way.
a. ASEAN Socio Cultural Community Blueprints Environmental
Cooperation Priority Areas
b. ASEANS Institutional Framework for Environmental Cooperation
c. ASEAN Secretariat
VI. Factors Influencing ASEANs Environmental Cooperation
a. Positive factors
i. Increasing seriousness of environmental issues
ii. Involvement of NGOs
b. Challenges
i. Slow decision making due to fragmented and bureaucratic
organization structures
ii. Working Groups sometimes lack of substance
iii. Budgetary constraints and insufficient human resources
iv. Inadequate coordination
v. Domestic barriers